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  • Lisa Cooseman, OTR/L, MS

Thanksgiving and Picky Eaters

Thanksgiving is a time when we think of gathering with family and friends, enjoying time together and sharing meals. It can be difficult for parents and kids when the food served is not the standard foods that they are used to. This becomes significantly harder when you have a picky eater who avoids any new or non-preferred food. Here are some tips to help ease your holiday meals:

  1. Thanksgiving dress rehearsal: Before you are in front of extended family and friends, have a “practice” Thanksgiving meal with your child. This will allow your child to be in a comfortable environment and begin to set some expectations for Thanksgiving day.

  2. Tastings: Allow the child to “taste test” some of the foods in small amounts and see what they might like/ not like. Making up taste testing cards with a range of faces might help to get the kids excited.

  3. Master Chef: Include your child in helping to prepare some of the dishes or search for recipes. Getting kids involved in the process allows them to feel more invested and excited about the process.

  4. Allow dipping: If your child has a favorite thing they like to dip their food in, let them do it! Ketchup is often a kid favorite. Perhaps it is not your first choice to dip your green beans in ketchup, but if the child has that as an option, they may feel more accepting.

  5. Set expectations ahead of time: Whether the expectation is that your child is going to take 1 small bite of each of the foods on their table or they are just expected to sit at the table to 10 min. Whatever the expectation is of your child, set it ahead of time and let them know what it is. This way everyone can be prepared.

  6. Avoid table wars: When you are in front of family and friends and your child is not acting like a perfect food connoisseur, it can be stressful. Mealtimes with family and friends are not the time to work on feeding skills. Don’t worry about battling your picky eater into eating foods they would not usually eat at home.

  7. Specialty dish: Have your child pick out a dish that they enjoy and would want to bring. Make it fun and let them pick a funny name for the dish. They can be involved in making the dish and maybe even serving it.

Have a picky eater that struggles with eating Thanksgiving dinner?


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